Strange Magic: A Stranger Things Love Letter
I am really bad at watching TV shows, apparently. I started watching Stranger Things when it first came out and after fifteen minutes I wasn’t enamoured, so I turned it off and chalked it up to over-hype. This absolutely baffled everyone I know. The 80s, D&D, and Winona Ryder are firm constants in my Top Ten Favourite Things, Like, Ever. Add in pretty boys with baseball bats and David Harbour? Well, everyone was at a loss. Through the months of conjecture, the consensus was that I just watched it wrong. It sounded ridiculous, but nonetheless, I sat down and I tried again, to watch it right, for the greater good.
Well. Eggo on my face, eh? Turns out I had, in fact, watched it wrong. Somehow I skipped the first ten minutes of the show, and thus lurched into a world of some angsty kids playing D&D and riding bikes. I get enough of that at work. After a false start, a second chance, and dodging spoilers like bullets, I was consumed. Never have I been happier to be proved so categorically wrong.
Stranger Things have happened…
You can’t deny that binge watching three seasons of a show has less atmosphere than going through a season at a time. You miss the suspense, the wondering, the theories, you miss missing it. Be that as it may, it didn’t take me long to rattle through every episode from beginning to the end we have for now. Even so, even without those elements (which we are losing more rapidly these days, thanks “next episode” button), the show stole my heart.
I’m a sucker for any kind of neon-bathed retro, but from the soundtrack to the casting, Stranger Things hit pretty much every nail on the head. I’m the first to admit that there were a few missteps along the way (can’t get behind Billy, sorry), but overall? Bitchin’. Stranger Things, in much the same vein as many other of my favourite films and TV shows, has the warm nostalgia of a life that we never had, but one that we use to escape to. Neighbours bringing casseroles over, incredible hair, seeing Back to the Future in a cinema, boss cars. It might all be rose tinted, but damn I enjoy wearing the glasses.
Strangers in this world we are
Seeing characters develop over a few days as opposed to a few years can mean that their developments lose some impact. I have no doubt that, as much as I adore Jim Hopper and Steve Harrington (and I mean adore) I know for sure that had I watched the show upon release, season by patient season, I’d probably love them a teeny bit more. Seeing Steve go from being the douchey, vacuous King of Hawkins High to an awesome babysitter at the ice cream parlour was a pleasure all its own, especially with Robin by his side. Hopper’s arc is messier and more misplaced. Even with some questionable decisions, we know that everything he does is to protect the people he loves. Damn, I love a rugged bloke with a heart of gold.
Stranger than fiction
They say you should never work with kids or animals, but Stranger Things laughs in the face of that cliche. With a plot so fantastical and yet so rooted in the banal reality of small-town America, it seems both an obvious and inspired choice to have cast predominantly made up of kids. You feel their palpable frustration at the disbelief from every adult they speak to, you get the desperate and innate curiosity and will to do the right thing, and you get surprisingly good acting, too. Each character of our adventuring party has a different yet equally vital role, just like a proper D&D campaign.
You also get to see them grow up. This is where my binge watching did me a disservice again, but oh how we get invested in these kids. We have been them, we knew them, we know how they are feeling (for the most part, y’know, alternate dimensions and Russian spies aside). Whilst I am fairly certain that Dustin is a projection of any future children I may have, you can’t help but root for each and every kid. You want what’s best for them, you want to keep them safe, and you also want to remind them every so often that sometimes, sometimes, parents do actually know best.
We can be heroes
All that is left is to wipe away my tears (because you know they are flowing after writing this) and begin to speculate about season four. What has become of Hopper? Where have the Byers and 11 moved to? Can we please see Steve and Robin get girlfriends? I have so many questions and so many hopes (and so many fears, let’s be honest).
The whole point of Stranger Things is that of love, friendship, and good defeating evil. They are classic themes that we revisit time and time again, but ones that we never get bored of. How could we? We are all saving the world with our best friends. Thankfully, mine knew me well enough to make me watch this show…again. Thanks, guys.